We all have a morning routine that helps us to start our day. From modeling the perfect outfit to listening to Alexa update us on the morning traffic, we perform these seemingly mundane tasks day in and day out without so much as a second thought. But as one woman found out, perhaps we should be paying more attention…

When 53-year-old Stephanie Brauns of Ohio noticed she began to feel ill every morning without fail, she could no longer ignore the symptoms. And when she realized that the very thing that was making her sick had to do with her ordinary morning routine, she was in utter disbelief!

Most adults go about their morning routines without so much as a thought. They take a shower, choose an outfit, and head out for the day. Fifty-three-year-old Stephanie Brauns of Withamsville, Ohio, was no different.

Though nothing about her morning routine changed over the years, she couldn’t help but notice something started to feel off. Every day, around the exact same time, she would begin to feel ill. Still, she struggled to pinpoint exactly why.

Stephanie felt this way so frequently that she began to wonder what she was doing wrong. By the time she was ready to head for the door, she would be so unbelievably sick that going to work seemed impossible.

But that’s when she had a sudden realization: “I always had my coffee at home,” Stephanie pointed out. “And within three sips… um, having severe reactions.” Eventually, at the suggestion of a friend, she read an article online that changed everything…

The article mentioned how many coffeemakers feature certain dangerous aspects, like collecting dirt. It also explained that the devices often gather a variety of mold and bacteria inside, and they can harbor more germs than a toilet seat!

[Coffeemakers] are certainly a moist environment where mold and bacteria are known to grow in high number,” Kelly Reynolds, associate professor of public health at the University of Arizona, explained. But could it really be enough to make Stephanie sick?

Absolutely, according to Kelly. While the human body can put up with this bacteria for a limited time, “…at some point they’ll grow to levels high enough to cause sickness,” she confirmed.

Upon learning this, Stephanie was—understandably—afraid of what she might find. So she brought the coffeemaker into her office to open it up and investigate. When she finally plied off the lid using a screwdriver, she was beyond repulsed by what she found inside…

Not only was there an immense level of calcium buildup, but a brownish mold had grown there as well. “It was horrifying,” Stephanie later admitted. She was disgusted by her discovery.

Perhaps what shocked Stephanie the most was just how difficult the product’s design made it to clean in the first place. She began to wonder whether there was even an option to avoid this kind of bacteria buildup from happening in the future…

“It is impossible to get to the full tank, unless you dismantle this machine, which I haven’t figured out yet,” Stephanie said. “Outside of taking a hammer to it, I don’t know how to completely open it and see what’s inside.”

While it was horrifying to find the disgusting dirt and sludge built up inside her coffeemaker, Stephanie was glad that she’d finally uncovered the root of her problem. Then, she had an idea…

Stephanie began focusing on bringing awareness to the issue. Not only did she want to warn the public of the dangers, but she wanted to make sure they didn’t just ignore the symptoms either. She stressed that manufacturers needed to make their machines easier to clean.

In the meantime, Stephanie sent a sample of the buildup to the producers of her coffeemaker. While she didn’t receive an answer, she knew that the majority of such products did contain coliform bacteria.

When the word spread about Stephanie’s discovery, many people were quick to reach out with similar stories. Some, like Carolyn Forté of the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, even offered a helping hand…

Carolyn and a number of other publications, like Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab, suggested that using a vinegar solution would likely work best, since it contained sanitizing properties.

Carolyn was sure to mention how Stephanie and others could be sure to keep their coffeemakers as clean as possible. “The carafe, lid, and filter basket should be cleaned daily with warm, sudsy water,” she said.

But people like Stephanie, who use their coffeemakers every single day, do need to perform maintenance a few times a year, too. “A coffeemaker that’s used daily should be decalcified about once per month in hard-water areas and every two to three months in soft-water areas,” Carolyn concluded.

The same kind of maintenance also goes for people who use pod-based coffeemakers, like a Keurig. By placing a solution of water and white vinegar into the water dispenser and running it through, they will effectively clean the mechanism inside.

As for Stephanie, her love for coffee was far too great to ever give it up. So, like everyone else, she simply needed to keep up with cleaning her coffeemaker regularly if she had any hope of avoiding possible medical complications!

Well, that ought to make people think twice about never washing their coffeemakers! Who’d want to turn such a pleasant part of their morning routines into something so dangerous?

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